Who writes the Food and Farm Bill? Who determines what’s included and not, and which programs get how much money?
Get to know key legislators with interactive maps of Congressional districts and more, at the excellent Farm Bill Primer.
For a comprehensive written overview: The Farm Bill, the Field and the Players by Ed Yowell and Fern Gale Estrow
There are two main committees in each House of Congress who are responsible for writing the Food and Farm Bill: the Agriculture Committee and the Appropriations Committee.
The Agriculture Committees set policies and funding limits for agencies/programs – they create the law. The Appropriations Committees decide how much money will be granted the legislation – they fund the law.
So, it’s not enough to have language about a particular program written into the law; then that program has to be funded.
These links list the members of these committees in the House of Representatives and the Senate:
House Committee on Agriculture
Senate Committee on Agriculture
House Committee on Appropriation
Senate Committee on Appropriations
Other important players in the Food and Farm Bill process are lobbyists, most of whom are working for big corporations, trying to get elected officials to vote in ways that would benefit them. It’s hard to find information about exactly how much money is spent lobbying for each particular issue, but this database shows what different corporations spent on lobbying each quarter and what issues they focused on. (The database isn’t terribly user-friendly; experiment a little until you get the hang of it. Thanks to Jill Richardson for the tip.)
For more info on the role that lobbyists are playing in the Food and Farm Bill process, see:
Whose Side Is the Farm Bureau on?
Congress’s Big Gift to Monsanto (07/02/12)